Scotland: Tory government election win spurs on pro-independence mood

Scottish independence rally 2018 (Creative Commons)

On Saturday 11 January, many thousands are expected to attend a pro-independence demonstration in Glasgow. The Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) has produced the following leaflet text to hand out on the mass demonstration.  

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Tories’ election victory will have angered and disappointed many workers and young people. He may have been elected promising ‘an end to austerity’ and to serve the ‘nation’, but, in truth, Johnson will rule for the billionaires and the interests of big business from day one.

Workers’ rights, the NHS, the environment, benefits and wages will come under attack. The working class and especially the trade unions, if they mobilise in defence of the interests of the majority, can stop the Tories and their attacks.

Disappointment can rapidly turn to anger. Mass struggle, as has been the case recently in France, Chile, Lebanon and Iraq, will be on the agenda.

The real anti-working class character of a Johnson government will become clear in the months ahead. In 1987 Margaret Thatcher was elected with a majority of 102 seats in parliament.

Within twelve months the campaign of mass non-payment against the poll tax, led by Militant, now the Socialist Party, had begun. It turned the Iron Lady into iron filings, forcing her resignation in 1990.

Today, the Tory Party is far weaker than it was then.


It’s inevitable that, given the Tories victory, support for independence will grow significantly in the coming weeks and months.

With a Tory government at Westminster and with the pro-capitalist Scottish National Party (SNP) winning 48 of the 59 available seats on a commitment of demanding another independence referendum (‘indyref2’), the scene is set for a major explosion in the national question.

Labour, which is fatally and widely seen to oppose the right to self-determination in Scotland, was once again reduced to a single MP in Scotland. Their vote fell dramatically to just over 18%.

The SNP was seen by many as the most effective way of opposing the Tories, while also supporting independence.

However, the SNP’s manifesto was significantly to the right of Labour’s. Indeed, SNP politicians regularity joined the chorus of attacks on Corbyn by the Blairite right and the capitalist press during the election campaign.

There is not the same enthusiasm towards the SNP by workers and young people as there was after the 2014 referendum. Years of SNP politicians carrying out cuts at Holyrood [where the Scottish parliament is located] and in local councils, has undermined their base.

There is an urgent need for the trade unions, socialists and the workers’ movement in Scotland to launch a new mass party for the working class and young people.

Build a mass movement

A Catalonia-style confrontation could now develop as Johnson will refuse to allow a second ‘legal’ referendum.

In contrast to the SNP leadership, Socialist Party Scotland advocates the building of a mass campaign of defiance, general strike action, mass protests and occupations to demand the right to choose, including demanding that the Scottish government organise the referendum in defiance of Johnson and the Tories.

By unleashing the power of the working class it would be more than possible to defeat the Tories – not just over their refusal to allow indyref2 but over cuts, austerity and anti-trade union laws, as well.

The SNP leadership, because they defend capitalism, are organically opposed to mobilising the working class in direct confrontation with the Tory government.

They naively believe that an agreement could be made with a Johnson government that would allow a referendum to take place through the weight of public opinion.

Socialist Party Scotland, as we did in the 2014 referendum, will call for a specific trade union, socialist, anti-cuts and pro-working class campaign for an independent socialist Scotland.

One that while supporting a Yes vote in an indyref2, would also fight for the powers of independence to be used to end and reverse the cuts and for socialist policies.

Central to this is the burning need to build a new mass working-class party that would fight for the powers of independence to be used in the interests of the working class.

An independent socialist Scotland would need to seek to build a united movement with the working class in the other nations; England, Wales and Ireland, across Europe and internationally.

It would also lay the basis for a genuinely free and voluntary socialist confederation of states and an international plan of production.

The potential power of the working class must now be marshalled in Scotland and across the UK to fight this reactionary Tory government and the wave of attacks they will try to implement.

Mighty class battles will open up, including over Scottish independence. Socialist Party Scotland will be at the forefront of these struggles, advocating a socialist programme to end capitalism and the rule of the billionaires.

Fight for socialist change

The system we live under – capitalism – is failing the overwhelming majority and exists only to engorge the richest with ever more wealth and power.

It is this reality that drove so many young and working-class people to vote for independence in 2014. And they will do so again in the next referendum.

An independent socialist Scotland would implement immediately a £12 an hour living minimum wage, ban zero-hours contracts, bring into public ownership the privatised utilities, banks, oil and all major industries under democratic working-class control and tax the rich and big business.

Only then would it be possible to end once and for all the poverty and inequality that is inherent in capitalism, including in an independent capitalist Scotland.

The advantage of socialist policies is they can answer the propaganda that independence would make things worse, not better.

That matters because to win a majority for independence means answering the doubts some working-class people have about wages, jobs and public services in an independent capitalist Scotland still controlled by big business interests.

The actions of SNP councillors and MSPs in passing on Tory austerity also has to end. Again, this can only weaken support for independence among communities who see SNP politicians cutting their NHS and council services.

The same applies to Labour who should be demanding their councillors stand up to the Tories and refuse to make cuts, like the socialist council did in Liverpool in the 1980s – again, led by the policies of Militant – now Socialist Party Scotland.

A principled socialist alternative is needed. Because SNP and Labour politicians refuse to fight cuts we need to build a mass working-class socialist party that does.



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